Short Breaks with Progress Care

My Name is Leah Austin, I’m 50yrs old, I live alone and I have been working as a foster carer with Progress Care since May 2021.

So, after applying to Progress Care I began to quickly realise that it was not just a case of applying, they assess you and you get a child. No, they guide you through a much more thorough process to ensure that when you go to panel to get approved you are totally prepared for what the role entails. Going through this process also enables you to understand more about what is needed from a foster carer and all the types of referrals that are out there waiting to be supported. I was given several choices of the type of placement I would like to provide, from mother & baby, emergency care, full time fostering with children from 2yr up to the age 18yr with or without special needs, disability or learning difficulties or to provide respite and short breaks for children and young people from the already mentioned. I decided that respite & short breaks were the care placement I wanted to provide as I also have a job in a SEN school and wish to continue this role until, I retire. Then I would consider fulltime fostering.

It’s so refreshing to see a different side to children in a home situation, they can interact differently, communicate more confidently and to see them happy and relaxed to be able to do life skills more independently has been amazing.

I have found that parents/carers of children in care are under enormous stress and the little support they do get is very much welcomed by them. Whether it is one night per month or a short break it gives the family time to recuperate, re focus or just get some much-needed sleep to enable them to continue taking care of the child.

I decided to opt to work for progress when they posted an advert on Facebook, I replied as I had done to other fostering companies in the past but this time, I got a prompt reply and so they say, the rest is history.

From the very start of the process, I felt fully supported and guided throughout, with such professionalism and organised realistic expectations of me during the assessment phase and that support continues right up to today, now I care for 6 children who regularly visit me each month. I do not have any birth children living at home but if I did then that would be taken into consideration by Progress when matching children to me. The children I have are of different ages, sex, and abilities all with their own individual needs for which I provide respite/short breaks catered to parents/ carers requirements.

Initially I will either get a phone call or email about a referral of a child that needs support, I will look through the referral information to ascertain whether I feel I can provide care for them and respond to my supervising social worker. If I want to go ahead then I will receive some more detailed information about the child including a safer caring plan, individual risk assessments and information about the child’s needs, disabilities, behaviours, medications, this gives me a fuller picture of the child. My social worker will then contact the parent/carer or their social worker to arrange a telephone call with me or an introductory visit at my home. I then get the chance to ask any other questions I may have about the child.

There is some flexibility for when I have the children stay with me and this is organised between myself and the parent/carer, usually during the introduction visit or by telephone call. Going forward I am available to discuss each child’s visit with the parent/carer and they can inform me of any changes, improvements, other information at drop off/collection time.

I currently only have space for one child at a time due to my living situation however if that changed then I could be open to taking on siblings. As a respite/short break carer I am only allowed to care for one child or sibling group per stay as we must consider the possibility of bullying, anxiety, challenging behaviours, and risks that could be a cause for concern. However, if I chose to change the provision that I wanted to provide then my supervising social worker would get this approved for me and I could do long term foster placements which would allow me more than one child at a time if I had the room, as they are treated more like a member of your own family with numerous siblings as long as they have their own room for different sexes or if appropriate same sex can be together in a bed of their own.

Finally, the financial support is provided weekly and is tax free for each child you have in placement, there are other opportunities to top up your finances with Progress care, whether it’s writing occasional blogs for websites, flyers or taking on other roles within the company it is an amazing company to work for and I have loved every moment which just encourages me to want to do more for children in need of care and support

I’M PROGRESS CARE

A Service You Can Trust

MY SERVICES

The Best Care for Your Child

OVERNIGHT RESPITE & SHORT BREAKS 

I understand the importance of caring for your children in a safe and effective way. With all of the services I provide, you can rest assured that your children are in good hands.

2-18yr CHILDCARE

I make it a priority to provide a stimulating and inviting environments for all of my children in placement with me. With all of my previous experience in SEN with children and adults , parents & carers stay calm whenever they leave their children in my care. As an experienced foster carer, I am here to provide the quality care your children deserve.

Teatime introductory visits

Years of experience have made it clear that parents often need a quality carer who can understand the needs of their child. I do my best to accommodate all of the children’s needs, whether they are children with sensory needs, those that require a routine to prevent meltdowns, those who require a specific way to communicate, I am confident I can accommodate all and like to offer teatime introductory visits to the child and parent/carer until they are comfortable with me to have them stay overnight. This gives the parent/carer the opportunity to ask questions and see how their child interacts with their new surroundings and myself.

 

Progress Celebrate Outstanding OFSTED Rating

We are absolutely delighted to announce that following an inspection by OFSTED in November 2021, we have been awarded the highest possible rating of ‘OUTSTANDING’.

The inspectors were full of praise and noted that:

“Children are cared for by carers who know them incredibly well and make exceptional progress from their starting points.”

“Children have excellent relationships with foster carers and benefit from stable, long-term placements.”

“The exceptional nurture and care children receive from their carers means that children feel valued and part of their fostering family.”

“Child-centred practice by foster carers and staff is driven by a therapeutic understanding of children’s needs with an excellent wrap-around service to ensure that everybody works together.”

“All carers spoken to shared that it did not matter who they spoke to in the agency, it felt like they knew them and their children well.”

“New foster carers state that they feel welcomed and valued by the agency.”

“The registered manager is a strong advocate for children and has ensured that children and carers have bespoke support so that children’s needs are met to a high standard”

“The registered manager is passionate, dynamic, and inspirational. She is highly visible and helped the agency to grow and develop. The registered manager has been at the forefront of the agency’s drive for excellence.”

“Foster carers are prepared well for their role, which contributes to the high levels of care and stability for children.” And “foster carers are provided with a range of training that equips them with skills and knowledge to meet the individual needs of the children placed in their care.”

 

 

We are thrilled with the result!

We are beyond thrilled to have received this feedback from OFSTED. Over the last few years, the staff at Progress have worked tirelessly to improve and develop the agency into the caring and nurturing space it is today.

Operations Manager Tina at Progress said:

 “I am delighted with the honour of achieving an outstanding inspection- the immense hard work and support by everyone in the Progress family has brought excellence in care and support.  We pride ourselves in quality and this been ratified by OFSTED and that feels wonderful.”

A fitting celebration

Through their hard work, dedication and care, every single member of the Progress family has contributed to our OFSTED ‘Outstanding’ rating and therefore deserves to be recognised and rewarded.

To commend this achievement as a team, we held a celebration and handed out awards to staff to express our recognition and thanks.

Once again, a huge thank you goes out to every member of the Progress team who has played an integral part in helping us accomplish this accolade. We are immensely proud of this achievement.

Click here to read the full OFSTED report.

If you would like to explore a fostering career with a family-owned, OFSTED-rated ‘Outstanding’ agency that cares, speak to our team today.

UCAS Blog

Do you have the skills to support a child that has just arrived in the UK without any parents?

Are you able to support a child that has suffered persecution due to their ethnicity, religion, culture, views or spoken language?

Would you be able to make a child feel safe, secure, and loved within your family home?

If you have answered yes to these questions then we at Progress would love to hear from you.

Many of these children arrive in the UK without their parents or carers and therefore are required to go into care to keep them safe as there is no suitable family member or guardian to care for them.

Alongside providing the child with a safe and loving home environment you may also need to support them through the process of applying for permission to stay in the UK. You may have to support them in gaining education or ensuring their health needs are met all of which will enable the child to have a better and brighter future. Many unaccompanied children seeking asylum will also have particular emotional, practical, language and cultural needs that their foster carers will have to consider.

We at progress will support you with meeting the needs of the child with daily, weekly and monthly supervision, training around meeting the needs of an unaccompanied child, in-depth training around becoming a foster carer, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on-call support, a dedicated supervising social worker designated to you, a supportive and knowledgeable team, the opportunity to meet other likeminded foster carers, a family support worker to support both you the carer and the child and also an in house therapist who will be able to tailor support sessions to meet your needs and also support to the child to support them to come to terms with their journey.

If you feel that supporting an unaccompanied child is for you, please give us a call and let’s make a difference in a child’s life today 😊

The most common 12 fostering myths – busted!

Fostering is one of the most selfless and courageous things one can do; however, it can come with anxieties and common misconceptions surrounding the process.

If you’re someone who has considered fostering, but has unanswered questions – you are not alone. In this blog post we take some of the most common misconceptions about fostering and bust them!

Please keep reading to find out what some of these common (untrue) assumptions are to educate yourself and maybe anyone else you know that might want to foster but has been limiting themselves based on these reasons or more.

The most common fostering myths:

  • I don’t own a home, so I can’t foster This is not true. You actually don’t need to own your home to be able to foster. What’s important, is that you can provide a safe, secure and loving home.
  • I am on benefits I can’t foster Being on benefits does not affect your ability to foster a child. In addition to this, if you’re on JSA or ESA, your benefits will not be affected as your fostering income will not be classed as income.
  • I am unemployed, so I can’t fosterSome foster children require around the clock care, and therefore require a foster carer who is available 24/7, meaning there would be no time for a full time job outside of foster caring, so you would definitely be considered.
  • I can’t drive Driving is not necessary as you will be paired with a foster child who suits your ability.
  • I am disabled, so I cannot take care of a childNot strictly true. Having a disability does not stop you being able to care for a child. In some cases this may be true, but more often than not, a child will be found easily who will be matched to your circumstances and ability.
  • I’m single, so I can’t foster Single people can foster too. You will be matched with a foster child who fits your ability.
  • I smokeIf you smoke there are restrictions to fostering, however you can still foster children over six years old.
  • I would love to foster, but I am gayThis doesn’t matter. You can foster if you are gay, straight or single. As long as you can provide a stable, secure and loving home, you will be considered.
  • I have my birth children, so I can’t foster This can be beneficial in some circumstances. Regardless of whether you have birth children, foster children or no children, you will be considered for fostering.
  • I am retired and therefore too old to foster Whether you retired at 40, 50, or 60, you will still be considered for fostering.
  • I have pets in my home, so I can’t become a foster carer Not true. As long as your pets pass their assessment (carried out by us) then you can foster.
  • I don’t have any children, so I don’t have the experience to foster a child Some foster children are better off in a childless home for many different reasons. Therefore, people who don’t have their own children will always be considered for fostering.

The entire process of fostering has been designed in a way that is flexible and responsive to the reflection of everyday life and people. This means that the process positively considers different life circumstances by catering to each individual’s situation instead of the opposite. A significant number of young people require support, care, consistency and happiness, meaning that it only makes sense to have a diverse range of foster carers available who reflect the different cultures and variety of the young people that come into the care environment.

The bottom line is that we are looking for people that can provide a child with safety and an opportunity to flourish.

If you or someone you know feel that you can be that person, don’t count yourself out on misconceptions; call or email us at Progress Care to find out more about fostering and answer any of your questions.

Want to find out more about fostering with Progress Care? Speak to our team today.

 

What is the Skills to Foster Training?

One of the most frequently asked fostering questions is about the type of support a foster carer will receive.

As a foster carer, we want to ensure you are equipped to manage a child or young person’s behaviour.

Therefore, the Progress Skills to Foster training is our chance to prepare you for the challenges of fostering.

What is Skills to Foster?

Skills to Foster is a two-day mandatory training course that all new applicants must complete before becoming approved as a foster carer.

The course is a flexible resource tool and supports new applicants to:

  • understand the different types of placements
  • understand the child/young person journey through their eyes
  • understand and manage their behaviours.
  • learn the vital skills to meet the day to day needs of fostering.

The course also links into the Training, Support and Development Standards in England, other professional development qualifications, as well as our competency-based assessment process.

Skills to Foster is split into the following seven sessions:

Session 1: What do foster carers do?

This first session will give you an insight into your role as a foster carer and focus on why children/young people come into care, why foster care is needed and, how their early life experiences may have impacted their development.

You will also learn what a child or young person will need from you as their foster carer.

Session 2: Identity and life chances

This session addresses the different factors that shape our identity and the importance of identity to a child/young person in care.

Session 3: Working with others

In session three, we will introduce the Progress team. You will learn who will support you in the needs of the child/young person and how you will be working as part of a team and never in isolation.

Session 4: Understanding and caring for children

This session explores the learnt behaviours that the child/young person may exhibit. You will also understand the concept of attachment and the kinds of attachments children/young people in care may possess. These are key concepts to grasp, so you have a non-judgemental understanding of the different behaviours.

Session 5: Safer caring

This session covers safeguarding and delegated authority and exploring why children/young people in care are particularly vulnerable. The session will also equip you with the skills to assess risk competency, balance risk, and develop responsive and proportionate family safer caring plans.

Session 6: Transitions

Within session six, you will look at the importance of foster carers and their families, supporting a child when moving from one placement to another and young people’s transition to adulthood.

Session 7: My Family Fosters

This session provides specialist materials to use with your birth children to ensure that they feel supported and included within your fostering journey.

We support all out foster carers. To learn more about how we do this please click here

To begin your journey in becoming a foster carer contact us today

Progress turns 21!

As we begin our year long festivities celebrating 21 years of supporting children and young people, Progress Chief Executive Bal Dhanoa and Chief Financial Officer Raj Dhanoa have a special message for our staff.

“Thank you all for your continued support, commitment, and dedication to Progress.

  • We are proud of our journey so far, we continue to make happy memories for our young people, so when they reach ‘adulthood’ they can reflect back and think of their time at Progress and what that means for them
  • We are proud to give stability to those needing long term care
  • We are proud to provide a range of amazing support services and care options to so many in our communities through our Hub teams
  • We are proud to expand our residential care portfolio across the Midlands – each home have their own unique offerings
  • We are proud of our foster carers, some whom have been with us right from the start of our journey and all those joining us now and, in the future

Reflecting on the time when this journey started for me, it was just a vision of what can be achieved. We started from humble beginnings and I am so blessed and proud of how the family of Progress has grown over the 21 years. Our journey has been incredible with many ripples and mountains to climb along the way. I am so proud to have such amazing people, who have been part of this journey and truly make a difference and uphold strong values as we continue to make memories.

During this journey we have had so many wonderful staff that have worked with us and developed their career paths – some moving on to achieve their own journeys and even retuning back to us. There are many of our staff who have worked with us for several years and developed their skills and moved on to senior positions within Progress. To all of you our heartfelt thank you.

There are those angels in our journey who have truly understood my vision, my passion, and have put up with my madness, in good and bad times, and have enabled my deepest desire to provide the best that we can to all vulnerable young people in our care. They remain constant, focused, always protecting us, and have been there from the start. A special thank you to our MD Claire. Without you this journey would not have been possible.

As we continue to prosper we hope and pray that we can continue to serve and make a difference in people’s lives, and continue to improve career opportunities for you all as you go through this wonderful journey with us. Always look to the future and learn from the past!

Happy 21st birthday to Progress as we all look forward to celebrating many more in years to come”.

Bal & Raj.

Keep visiting Progresscare.co.uk for further 21st celebration updates. #progress21

Progress recognised with award for Covid work

Progress was named winner of Outstanding Support During Covid-19 category at the 2020 Best Business Awards.

We have been recognised for our approach to the nationwide lockdown caused by Covid-19 in March 2020.

As lockdown came into force, Progress prioritised the care of those that relied on us for critical support. We assigned drivers, offering a ring-and-ride service to our workforce to eliminate the use of public transport and minimise the exposure risks. Progress also offered a triage service to families, to deal with any crisis that might arise and made available some flats as isolation units (and offered that resource to local authority partners).

Progress has been able to keep all residents and staff safe; continue to provide essential services to families and challenge our creativity. Our community team started digital support sessions with young people, engaging in online training on anything from e-safety to managing anxiety, providing families with support and young people with consistency. Progress staff and young people have engaged with the measures we put in place and coped exceptionally well through what has been an uncertain and anxious time, adapting and responding to the constantly shifting sands.

The BBAs pride themselves on having a large panel of independent expert judges who select winners according to strict criteria for each category and sector.

Commenting on Progress, the winner in the Outstanding Support During Covid-19 category, the chairman of the judges said: “After seeing the devastation Coronavirus was causing in Italy earlier in 2020, Progress was quick to lock down earlier than other care homes to protect its vulnerable residents both young and old. Non-essential visitors were asked not to attend care homes, virtual forms of communication were set up so residents could keep in touch with loved ones, and community staff were reassigned to other roles such as drivers, helping staff to avoid public transport. Congratulations to Progress Care for having the foresight to act quickly and keep people safe.”

Upon receiving the Award, Claire Rogers, Managing Director of Progress said:

“We always pride ourselves on providing high quality care and support, but this has been even more important throughout the Pandemic, with the additional challenges this presented. Keeping our core values at the heart of our decision making has been our strength, providing a fixed point from which to navigate. It is wonderful to have been recognised for the outstanding support we have provided during this difficult time.”

The Best Business Awards are one of the UK’s highest profile awards. Due to its high profile, the Awards attract a wide range of entries from across all sectors from large international PLCs and public sector organisations to dynamic and innovative SMEs.

Growing up in foster care: Stephanie

Growing up in foster care is not easy for some children. Therefore, it becomes the responsibility of the carer to create an atmosphere for a child to feel loved.

We asked Stephanie to share her experiences of fostering and tell us what it’s like to be in a new home.

In your foster placement, what are your favourite things?

I get to go to the park and take part in a lot of activities. I have so much fun riding on the rowboats, playing tennis and running around the track.

I told my carers that I love to read, so they bought me a lot of books. My favourite is BFG. My bedroom is a comfortable place for me to read and play. I also got to choose how I wanted to decorate my room. The room is full of teddy bears and other things that make me happy.

Do you feel encouraged and supported to do well at school? 

I get a lot of help with my homework. My foster carers always encourage me, so that when I am older, I can be whatever I want to be. Whenever I need support on certain subjects, I get it. I take part in a lot of after school activities such as extra English and maths lessons, as well as dance, karate, swimming and ballet classes.

What help do you get in difficult times?

I always sit and talk to my foster carers and ask them for help when I feel down. I enjoy my support sessions with my support worker too. I can now understand my feelings much better and learn why certain things happen.

What things are important to you, when living with a fostering family?  

They find out what children need to make them feel comfortable, like a teddy bear or a hug. I always like it when my foster carers sit with me and watch TV.

A foster carer should also encourage children to do things that they have not done before. This will make the foster child feel special, happy and loved.

If a family were thinking about fostering, what advice would you give them? 

Be kind and loving.

Ready to make a positive impact in a child’s life? Click here for more information

What does a Supervising Social Worker do?

A supervising social worker supports and guides a foster carer in every aspect of their fostering experience. We spoke to Progress supervising social worker Tendai to get an insight on her role.

It is my responsibility to develop a close working relationship with our pool of foster carers. On any given day, I can be leading, coaching, and empowering foster carers to be the best carers they can be.

Whether we are helping carers with their form F assessments or preparing them for the panel presentation, the role of a supervising social worker is a busy one!

Caring for carers

A supervising social worker must have an emotional investment in the lives of their foster carers. If a foster carer wishes to let something off their chest, I am here to listen and advise. When a carer tells me of a problem, I often find there are solutions. Helping a carer, will not only make them feel better but allows them to focus on their foster child.

Training for carers

A foster carer with the right training and support will be able to have a stable placement and ensure better outcomes for a child. I recently worked with carers to identify the training they required to support a child with complex disabilities.

The couple and wanted to be in the best possible position to help the child and were hungry to learn.

Foster carers tend not to have any formal qualifications and instead use their skills and experiences to support those in their care. However, if you care for a child with specific needs, you will need the training to help them.

The training I placed them on was personalised and delivered in a variety of ways. From face-to-face group training to individual online training, the aim is always to make learning fun and informative for the carers.

Working with others

Though primarily my role is about foster carers and children and young people, the relationships I build and the support I provide extends beyond that.

Through positive relationships with foster carers and other professionals, specifically the local authority social worker (s), foundation agreements are made, and expectations laid out.

We all have the same goals, without which, there can be a disruption for a child or young person.

The future

One of the biggest challenges I find is the lack of foster carers locally (and nationally). It is heart-breaking to know that there are children and young people out there waiting for a loving couple to support them.

We need more carers to contribute to the incredible work our foster carers are doing.

No matter what your role is in the Progress foster team, we all have one goal – to ensure the children and young people in our care have positive life outcomes. I feel humbled to be trusted with supporting children, young people, and their carers. It is a privilege to make a positive impact on all their lives.

Why I foster: Helen

In a new series of interviews we have asked Progress foster carers why they foster care and how fostering changes lives.

Helen has been caring for James and Perry with her husband, Henry. This is her story.

When you have a child of your own, you realise what a positive influence they can have on your life. My husband Henry and I had reached a stage in our lives where we did not want any more children of our own, but we did want to support and care for a child that was less fortunate than others.

Whether it is for a week or full-time, if Henry and I could change a child’s life for the better, we would.

Some of my work colleagues had experience as foster carers. The more they spoke to me about how fostering works, the more it seemed like a great way to help children.

When you start fostering, prepare for your life to change.

You will go through a lot emotionally and looking after someone else’s child will take a lot out of you. In some cases, you may only have a short time with a child or young person, maybe a year or two so it may feel like everything is happening quickly.

However, you must remember that the time you are in their lives, could be an important period for them. It is for this reason that Henry and I put all our energies into ensuring we can make a difference.

When Progress told us about James and Perry we wanted to help. The boys did not have the structure of regular family life, so we expected things to be a little chaotic. In all honestly, they were just two sweet little boys that needed love and attention.

Henry and I were nervous about the rules we wanted to implement in the house. We did not want them to feel intimidated but knew that the rules would stand all of us in good stead.

James and Perry have been fantastic at going along with everything. The boys say please and thank you and eat three meals a day, as opposed to the junk food they ate before they arrived. Routines like brushing their teeth and going to bed at set times, have helped them to live a normal life.

As a couple, Henry and I appreciate having a network of other foster carers. Progress hosts the “Voice of Progress”, a monthly club for foster children to get together and participate in fun activities. The foster carers tag along and use it as a chance to talk to each other about our experiences.

There is no set rule book for what makes a good foster carer. We all bring our uniqueness to any given situation. Having some life experience and being a caring and patient person helps.

Fostering is my way of making a positive difference in the world. Henry and I feel that giving a child the chance to succeed in life is not only good for them, but for everyone in society. If you can offer a child a home, along with the help and support they need at a difficult time in their life, then you must get involved.

Keen to know how you can change a child’s life? Click here for more information